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5

Tangerine Dream: It’s Pixie Month at The Oaks at Ojai Spa

It’s Pixie Tangerine season in Ojai, and we celebrated our love of the seedless fruit, the Oaks at Ojai spa treatments, and romance this past weekend.

chaise longuesJust to be clear, in this case, “we” was NOT my sister and I (see the part just there that mentions romance). Last year my sis and I went to the spa for Bike Week, so you can go for the active adventures, or wind down with spa treatments. Or both. This time I went for relaxation and spa treatments (you don’t have to be a guest to take advantage of the spa services, FYI).

For Pixie Month, my particular friend and I showed up in time for dinner, which included a Pixie mousse for dessert. Yes, you CAN get dessert at a fitness spa. Our goal was to relax after a busy week, so we took a short stroll after dinner, then sat in the hot tub contemplating our good luck at having it all to ourselves.

Ojai Meadows Preserve

The Ojai Meadows Preserve is a 5-minute drive from the Oaks at Ojai.

frog

Five of these little froggies would fit in the palm of your hand

April is Pixie tangerine month at the Oaks at Ojai. Ready for your visit? Click To TweetAfter breakfast, which included as many Pixies as we could fit in our pockets, we drove to the Ojai Meadows Preserve for a hand-in-hand stroll, where we saw several hundred teeny tiny frogs. We were tempted by both the morning hike and the aqua class at the spa (I have done both in the past, and loved them), but we were focused on our “together” time, so chose solo activities instead.

serenity garden

Hidden behind the pool is a serenity rock garden. You can add your own!

By the time we got back to The Oaks at Ojai, it was time for our spa treatments. In my case, that meant a pixie pedicure. Yup, it included a foot and leg scrub infused with tangerines, plus a fresh tangerine squeezed into the foot soak water. I almost chose tangerine as my nail polish color, then decided to go with a merlot color. I’m sure both sound delicious. My friend had a massage, which I was surprised to learn was the first he’d ever had in his life. How is it possible that he made it into his fifties without ever having a massage? In any case, he loved it, including the hot stones, and now he knows what he’s been missing.

Lake Casitas

If you come from Santa Barbara, stop for the views of Lake Casitas

ABC Channel 7 did a piece about Pixie month and the Oaks at Ojai, which we recommend you watch. The spa is only 45 minutes away from Santa Barbara, and includes a scenic drive past Lake Casitas. If you’re coming from L.A., it’s only an hour’s drive.

Rachel at Oaks at Ojai

Don’t let that smile fool you; Rachel is just waiting to make you laugh

My little extra piece of advice? You can go for a girls’ getaway (some friends did that a week before our visit), or with a male partner. Some people think the Oaks at Ojai is just for women, but that’s not the case at all. There were a number of men there (though mine was the handsomest). And if you want to laugh, ask for Rachel at the front desk. She’s a hoot.

Alexandra Williams, MA

This is not a sponsored post, though I was a special guest at the spa for the night.

 

26

How Do You Relax?

Do you think relaxing is part of a healthy, active life? For some, relaxing is the opposite of activity. For others, it’s congruent with it. Maybe it just depends on how you define “relax.”

rocks at Hendry's in Santa BarbaraI know many people who love to practice yoga, as they find it to be a calming, centering activity that relaxes their mind AND body. I’m not one of those people. When I try to do yoga, my mind just wanders and I notice all the parts of my body that hurt. So yoga is definitely NOT relaxing for me.

house dwarfed by lilac treeFor others, reading is a release and escape. For most of my life, I was the same, as I’ve loved to read ever since I was three. But now I just feel guilty if I read anything except professional research or nonfiction, as I have so many things I HAVE to read before I can pull out something I enjoy (or so my massive guilt hormone would have me believe).

two cormorants, entwinedJust as many people like to combine their foods, I like to combine my activities. That seems to quiet the guilt hormone beast that lurks somewhere behind my sweaty-mascara right eye. So I combine action with relaxation by walking. And baking. And taking pictures. But not of my baking because my photo skills aren’t yet good enough to make me feel warm and self-satisfied inside. Only a piece of homemade sourdough bread can do that.

art on building in Los AngelesAlmost every day I walk. With the dog. Or alone. With my camera. Whether it’s a short 20-minute visit to our nearby meadow, or a 6-mile hike with a friend once a month, I always come back from my walks in a composed, steady state. I like ticking off the benefits:

dog jumping off rock at beach* reduced stress
* completed most of my 10K daily steps
* created a happy dog
* focused mind
* shot some great (I have self-confidence) photos
* communed with nature (though I have strong opinions about bugs touching me)
* escaped (temporarily) the demands on me
* maintained my weight and fitness levels

waves hitting old pier
bridge at Bacara Resort
fallen logs on the beach cliffsWhat about you? Do you find it relaxing to combine activities? Are you able to appreciate yoga or meditation? Do you feel guilty about taking time to relax? And what do you do to relax? Do tell. I might add your idea to my list.

funny comic about relaxing

Found on Facebook. Artist’s name is on the comic.

by Alexandra Williams, MA

27

Stress, Relaxation, Bread & Exercise

Alexandra Williams, MA
Politicians Know How to Create Stress

Politicians Know How to Create Stress

With the looming government shutdown and sequester sending the nation into a tailspin, it’s no surprise our collective stress levels are way up! Not good. High stress = faster aging + weight gain.

Reduce Stress – Relax

While we can write to our elected representatives (and click Like on Facebook political posts that match our positions), it’s also smart to find ways to reduce stress. It’s not physiologically possible to be stressed and relaxed simultaneously, so finding ways to relax can decrease our anxiety AND make us younger! Just a few short weeks ago, a study was released in The Lancet Oncology that found that eating a plant-based diet, moderate exercise and reducing stress might help reverse the aging process on a cellular level. Is that cool or what??!!

Gratuitous “Relax” video from Frankie Goes to Hollywood. It came out (haha, get the double entendre there?) in 1983, the same year I started teaching aerobics in Berlin.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyl5DlrsU90[/youtube] Although I love to read, I know myself well enough to realize that reading in the day also makes me feel guilty. I need to be DOING, not BEING in order to feel relaxed. Exercise is my job and my passion, so I definitely use exercise as a way to decrease stress. Yet my non-exercise relaxation, creative technique is to bake, especially bread. Sourdough, sweet, European, sandwich, herbed, whole wheat, baguettes – I love it all.

Bread Baking Class

I’ll let you decide if these pictures show how enjoyable it is to make bread. They are from a class I took at Le Pain Quotidien a few weeks ago as a special invited guest.

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We made baguettes, epi de blé, dinner rolls and whole wheat hazelnut raisin bread, plus they sent us home with rising dough. Sadly, I left mine in the car overnight and it rose so splendidly that it exploded all over the back seat. Instead of Epi de blé I had Epic de Boom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even with my years of baking, including my confidence using sourdough, I got a lot from the Ten Tips for Bread Baking they sent home with me. Every time I read the news about the political mess in D.C., I head to the kitchen for some baking therapy. Today it’s Sourdough Pizza Herb. Luckily for me, baking bread is how I relax, not eating bread, though I do love fresh bread.

Sourdough Pizza Herb Bread

Sourdough Pizza Herb Bread

With the October 17 deadline really close for the Treasury to run out of money to pay our nation’s debts, I think I’ll have to double my exercise and baking efforts, as I feel my stress levels rising.

What about you? How do you reduce stress?

 

 

 

Photo credits: Politicians:  Ephemeral Scraps via CreativeCommons.org. All others: Alexandra

 

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D) Come on over for some delicious bread!

14

End of Summer Trip to Rancho la Puerta

Alexandra Williams, MA

A Spa Stay is the Perfect Way to Spend a Few Relaxing Days

We went to Rancho la Puerta spa in Tecate, Mexico last weekend, not to teach, but to hear author Dr. John Ratey speak about his book “Spark.” Have you heard of Rancho la Puerta? We’ve been going there as guest fitness instructors and presenters since the mid-80s, when Kymberly was first hired to teach fitness for them as part of the cruise ship staff.

The Ranch staff know how much Kymberly loves Dr. Ratey’s research and book about the link between exercise and the brain (more from Kymberly in an upcoming post about her dream-come-true experience of meeting Dr. Ratey, who is very droll and excellent company), so they invited us to come down while he was a presenting guest. Try to feel our pain, as we had to choose every hour between lectures, massages, pool classes, group fitness classes, hikes, meditation, and eating organic, vegetarian food. Yeah, exactly. Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful (trivia: did you know that Rancho la Puerta: Golden Door has a long history with Pantene?)

Actually, our pictures can show you some of the beauty that is the Ranch.

Breakfast is my favorite morning meal

The Ranch Kitties Participate in Meditation

These are just the “extra” Daily Activities

Look Ma, I’m Lounging

Forced to Relax in the Great Outdoors

In a Spurt of Energy, I Moved My Lounging over to the Pool

 Thank you LongSailSports, for the cool googles and GELIE bag! Perfect timing for this trip!

The Daily Quotes are Great, and I especially Love the Squirrel

I dedicate the picture above to John Poole, as he has a tremendous love for squirrels and their antics.

Dreams Do Come True: Eating with new Pals, including John Ratey

I’m Such a Plankster!

Did you know there are many activities you can do when you are (still) recovering from foot surgery? I even took a water class, then did laps, right after 3 miles on the bike and a mile on the treadmill. I was awesomely awesome somewhat nauseous afterward!

I Melted the Pool Water ‘Cause I’m so Hot!

These Are Your Glutes on Ranch Fitness!

I was so gracious; I let them use my glutes as the model for these male torso sculptures.

The Butterfly Door at the Rec Center

My bedroom! Not really; it’s the Library Lounge

My mind is a Labyrinth (so are the ground and the sculpture)

Every day at the Ranch, I was asked about my compression leggings and socks by Zensah. You don’t have to have foot surgery to be a fashionista, by the way!

Sunrise during the Breakfast Hike to the Organic Garden & Kitchen

Yes, I woke up at 5:45 to take the morning hike to the organic garden and kitchen for breakfast. But look at the picture below and you’ll see that it was totally worth it!

The Only Place at the Spa with a Secret Stash of Chocolate Chip Muffins

La Cocina que Canta: You Eat Where the Food is Grown

Before Kymberly left town to visit her daughter at college, she made this short video that has some gorgeous views of the Ranch. Take a look.

By the way, if you are considering a trip to the Ranch, don’t listen to the dire warnings about Mexico. Rancho la Puerta is only 43 miles east of San Diego, and about 2 miles over the border at Tecate. You are escorted the entire way in the Ranch shuttle and you never have to leave the spa (although we lots of people like to go into town for pinatas, chocolate, wine, lard-based donuts)!

Have you ever gone to a spa? What did you like best about it?

We want to give a shout-out here to our friends at Mr. Steam. They had nothing to do with our trip to Rancho la Puerta, but they do offer us the same feeling of spa luxury with their products. We’re proud to be ambassadors for them!